OK, so the original Star Wars trilogy probably isn't coming back
The odds of seeing restorations of the classic trilogy this year are low. They're very, very low.
The scoopers at Making Star Wars set our hearts aflutter yesterday when they reported a rumour that the ‘unaltered’ versions of the original Star Wars trilogy would finally be re-released this year to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the franchise.
Naturally, we immediately speculated that this announcement would be the special surprise at the 40th Anniversary Panel at Star Wars Celebration that had been teased on The Star Wars Show earlier in the day.
Sadly, Pablo Hidalgo has come along to rip out our fluttering hearts and show them to us before we died.
Hidalgo, a key member of Lucasfilm’s vaunted Story Group, would almost certainly know if there were any plans underway to re-release the original cuts of the films, and judging by his response to the rumour, it doesn’t sound like it’s on the agenda.
Celebrating 20 years of that unaltered re-release rumor.— Beloved By Reddit (@pablohidalgo) February 23, 2017
Hidalgo's trademark snark has gone over about as well as you'd imagine, although he does sympathise with the fans who want to see the original films (“I prefer my ‘70s movies to look like ‘70s movies”, he told one fan).
Ultimately, though, it's not up to him, and Hidalgo seemed to confirm the widely held belief that, somehow, the original cuts can only be released with vengeful god George Lucas’ permission, despite the fact that Lucas sold Lucasfilm to Disney for a casual $4 billion in 2012.
Meanwhile, the folks at The Digital Bits conferred with sources at Disney and 20th Century Fox, the two studios that would need to come to an agreement to make the re-release happen (despite the sale of Lucasfilm, Fox owns the distribution rights to the first Star Wars film in perpetuity).
They report that, while the elements needed to reconstruct the original ’77 cut of the first film have been preserved, no such reconstruction work has been done to date.
In other words, it's very unlikely we'll see the restorations this year, unless all the parties involved are just very good at keeping secrets (well, except for whoever leaked the rumour to Making Star Wars in the first place).
Still, we can hope, right?
Restorations are built on hope...